Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Federal funds approved for Amerbelle roof repair

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
January 10, 2008

VERNON - The federal government has approved a $198,000 grant for the town to be used for roof and window improvements at the Amerbelle Textiles mill.

In February, the town applied for $750,000 to purchase a regenerative thermal oxidizer, an energy saving pollution control device, and for $550,000 for roof and window repair, Town Administrator Christopher Clark said.

The federal government combined the two requests for a total of $200,000, and in August, that request cleared the Senate's appropriations committee, attached to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Bill.

The bill, which designates more than $30 million to projects around the state, found approval in both the House and the Senate. It then went to the president's office for signature and was trimmed there another 1 percent, to $198,000, Clark said.

The funds will be channeled to a federal agency that will oversee the repairs.

Clark says the roof on the four-story, 200,000-square-foot building is leaking badly, and the town hopes to award a contract soon.

Initial bids for roof repairs alone are coming in at roughly $170,000, he said.

In 2004, the town assumed ownership of the mill, leasing it to a New York textile businessman after the plant's board of directors voted to cease operations. If the mill had folded, more than 100 people - half of them Vernon residents - would have lost their jobs.

A year later Amerbelle Textiles LLC turned a profit for the first time since 1997.

©Journal Inquirer 2008